Weather, Illness affecting area blood supply

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(WVLT) Flu and flu-like illnesses have closed schools and cancelled church services.

Now, it's affecting how hospitals operate.

Medic, the area's only provider of blood for the East Tennessee community, is now back ordered on the universal blood type, O negative.

And this morning, they were unable to fill hospital orders.

Medic supplies blood to 29 area hospitals, but this morning, many of its usual deliveries never left Ailor Avenue.

The hospitals are currently stocked, but once they are out, MEDIC officials say they are out of units of O-negative blood.

Illness and weather have delivered medic a one, two punch, and the blood supply has taken the hit.

Dr. John Neff, with UT Medical Center says, "many people are sick, and sick people can't donate blood, all over the country, we're running into this sort of a thing."

Donors must be healthy and feel well at the time of the donation, and illness has forced many of medic's regular donors to cancel.

Winter weather has also forced medic to cancel many of its scheduled blood drives.

Jim Decker, the MEDIC CEO says, "it's a difficult time of the year, we're having a lot of fluctuations in weather, we've had cold days, rainy days, snow days, some ice days."

MEDIC is the sole provider of blood to UT Medical Center.

But this morning, it was MEDIC on the receiving end.

The situation is so critical, UT Medical donated 10 units of O-negative back to MEDIC.

Neff says, "we, then, put into place here a number of procedures, which we have ready to go, to further conserve the already scarce blood that we have."

While the back order of O-negative remains, only young women of child-bearing age will receive O-negative blood.

Older women and men will receive O-positive.

MEDIC officials say O-negative is on back order, but they are making an emergency appeal for all blood types.

To donate, MEDIC requires you are at least 17 years old and weigh more than 110 pounds.

To donate, call 524-3074 for a blood drive schedule.

The MEDIC donor center is located downtown on Ailor Avenue, there is also an office in Farragut on Kingston Pike.

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